Enjoy a variety of amazing views, traditional towns and culture, Andean farming techniques, and remarkable saltpans in this one-day tour right outside of Cusco. First, our itinerary takes us to the Incan ruins of Moray – an impressive agricultural center that demonstrates the ancient Incan’s mastery of high-altitude crop growing. Next, we will visit the colonial town of Maras. Maras is known for its nearby salt evaporation ponds – which have been in use since the time of the Incas! We can also enjoy an optional hike through the salt evaporation fields as we make our way towards the Sacred Valley before heading back to Cusco.
The Maras and Moray Day Tour
We will pick you up from your hotel or hostel in Cusco at 9:00 AM. Our first stop is the Moray ruins. Along the way to Moray, we will pass through the town of Chincheros, and all about we will observe the local farming techniques, which have been passed down for generations.
Our first stop is the ancient agricultural terraces of Moray (53 km /33 miles from Cusco) - one of the most elaborate and advanced structures achieved by the Incas. Located at 3400 meters or 11,100 feet above sea level, these stunning ruins paint a portrait of how advanced the Incan Civilization was. Moray is made up of a series of levels divided by steep, circular walls – each level essentially has a different climate as temperatures range from 15ºC (27ºF) between the top and the bottom.
At Moray, we will enjoy a nice lunch inside of the ruins and have a guided tour of the famous ruins. Made up of three different “coliseums,” it is believed that the Incas used this structure as a sort of crop laboratory for examining the effects of different temperatures, amount of exposure to the sun, and the wind factor in determining how to better grow their crops throughout the empire. Many think these ruins are reminiscent of a Greek theatre, as the large concentric circles invoke the architecture of ancient Greek auditoriums. Many of the lower levels are believed to have been used by pre-Inca civilizations – and the bottom of the depression serves as a natural drain due to its porousness that allows for filtration of the water accumulating at the bottom.
After our visit to Moray, we will proceed to our next destination – the incredible town and saltpans of Maras. The Town of Maras is famous for its colonial door arches and its large Catholic Church. After a quick visit to the town, we will head towards the saltpans located on the northwestern slope of the mountains before entering Cusco - this natural wonder is an incredible spectacle of beauty. Formed by a natural underground salt-stream, the salt has been harvested since Inca times by evaporating the water from the stream in small holding pools which dot the landscape around the stream. The flow emerges at a stream high above the Sacred Valley, and as it flows towards the floor of the valley, is weaves through an intricate systems of channels where it is collected into the hundreds of ancient terraced ponds. Here, passengers will have the chance to walk down the path along the trail down to the Sacred Valley (where our bus will be waiting) or head back to Cusco in our van (no hiking required).